Nude. What a funny word—even funnier when used to describe a color. What color is nude? When I think of nude, I think of skin tone. I think of naked. I think of natural. Is that too out of the ordinary? I don’t think so. But then if I cut myself, a supposedly nude Band-Aid looks like very conspicuous tape across my arm. If I use nude lipstick, it looks like my lips are glowing in the dark. If I wear nude flats with my navy bridesmaid dress, I might as well be wearing white sneakers. When did we decide one shade of “nude” is the actual nude?
I went into Sephora the other day and asked for a nude lip stain, and the saleslady looked at me and said, “Are you sure?” I was completely caught off guard by her question and responded with, “Umm, yes?” Shrugging her shoulders, she sat me down. She flippantly filled in my lips with “nude” and then turned my chair around. I actually looked like I had chalk on my lips.
She said, “See, this is what nude is. People come in asking for nude, and they don’t realize what it is,” then gave me a long look like I should have known better. She then suggested I try some shades of dark red or purple. I politely declined, fuming, with smoke probably coming out through my ears, and headed home. There I was, an eager candidate for makeup, ready to buy, card in hand, basically being told that nude wasn’t for me. Dark purples, reds, and even oranges would look best on me, she’d said. I WANTED TO SCREAM.
Nude is subjective! Nude should be eclectic! How? Nude pantyhose, nude eye shadow, nude nail polish, nude underwear—the list goes on. The beauty industry thinks it’s so progressive because it has suddenly included “curvy” women into the world or because futuristic patterns are on the runway? You guys are still as old as the Stone Age.
It doesn’t matter if I’m shopping in America, England, or even India. Brown is still not common. White is still everywhere. Nude is still white. I’m not one of those Indian women who strives to be lighter, and I certainly won’t ever be. I’ve known people close to me who really care about the lightness of their skin, and it actually makes me sick. Sure, before my wedding when I went to Miami in the heat of summer, I sat under an umbrella because I didn’t want to buy new makeup for my wedding day. But my years of playing tennis in the summer heat gave me much awareness to the flippant and unfiltered remarks made by Indian people about my skin color.
My husband thinks it’s ridiculous how Indian people comment on skin color, but then I point out to him that all around the world, people have always been made to think that darker equals inferior. And the beauty industry today doesn’t really help that, does it?
Back in America, I see beauty advertisements with white, black, and Latina women. Even East Asian women. But where are the Indian women? Why hasn’t that trend become prevalent—especially with how many Indian women live in America? I can’t even watch some of these Indian makeup bloggers because I see them using shades three to ten times too light for their faces. Not all of them are like this, of course, but so many are. Very few are true to their brown. Why, in 20-freakin-17, are we still embarrassed about being brown? Why is nude still a solitary shade? Who makes the beauty rules?
I’d like to think we make our own rules. I certainly make my own. If you tell me that a certain shade won’t look good on me, sweetheart, I will own it. I am an i n d e p e n d e n t woman of color and very much proud of my color. Don’t tell me I’m not light enough for any lip color, let alone nude. I recently bought a set of five ColourPop lip stains to see what they look like on brown skin. I didn’t use any extra lighting, just sat by the window. If you’re interested in seeing what these shades looked like, check out this video. Until then, friends, stay true to who you are and never, EVER let anyone tell you that you can’t rock that color—because ya can.